Trailing, 47-17, in the fourth quarter, the University at Buffalo football team fought back and nearly capped an improbable comeback, but ultimately lost to the Black Knights, 47-39, at Michie Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Joe Licata threw for 396 yards and an FBS-era school-record five touchdown passes in the game. The junior signal-caller hit 11 different receivers. His favorite target was Marcus McGill who had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns – all career highs. Devin Campbell also had a pair of touchdown receptions.
Army, playing its first game of the season, featured a strong running attack, utilizing the triple-option offense. The UB defense struggled to defend the offense and allowed 341 yards on the ground, one week after holding Duquesne to just 51 yards rushing.
The Bulls got off to a great start as, on the third play of the game, Lee Skinner force a fumble that was recovered by Witney Sherry. UB drove down the field and a Patrick Clarke 22-yard field goal gave the Bulls a 3-0 lead. However, Army would control the remainder of the half and led 21-3 at the break.
The Black Knights went ahead, 28-3, midway through the third quarter before the Bulls finally found the endzone. Licata hit Devon Hughes across the middle for a 20-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-10.
The teams would trade quick scores. First, a 41-yard touchdown run by Army put the Black Knights back up, 34-10. The Bulls quickly answered as Licata hit McGill with a quick screen and the junior wide receiver outraced everyone 65 yards for a touchdown.
Back-to-back quick touchdowns by Army made the score 47-17 and seemingly out of reach. But a common theme with any Jeff Quinn coached team is their refusal to quit. First, Licata hit Campbell with a shovel pass and the junior running back outraced the defenders to the pylon for a touchdown – 47-24.
A perfectly executed onside kick by Clarke was recovered by McGill and the Bulls were back on offense. UB drove 47 yards on eight plays and Licata found McGill from three yards out to cut the lead to 47-31 with 6:01 left.
The UB defense was able to force an Army fumble that was recovered by Lee Skinner at the UB 33-yard line with 5:03 left. The Bulls marched 67 yards in 2:21 and Licata and Campbell connected for their second touchdown of the game, this time from eight yards out. Willoughby caught the two-point conversion attempt and all of the sudden the Bulls were down by only eight points.
UB had one more chance as the defense held and the Bulls got the ball back at their own 25-yard line with 57 seconds left and no timeouts. However, the drive stalled and so did UB's chances of completing the comeback.
"I'm disappointed," Quinn said. "We came here to win a football game and we didn't play well enough for four quarters. We take a lot of pride in playing four quarters of football. We didn't do that in the first half. I thought there were some things in the second half that clearly showed more of what we expected out of our players."
The Bulls actual outgained Army in total offense, 549-466. Licata's 396 passing yards were the 10th most in a single game in school history. His 34 completions were two shy of his own school record. His five touchdown passes were an FBS-era record and tied Cliff Scott (at New Haven 9/12/92) for second all-time at UB - one behind Marty Barrett (vs. Alfred 11/12/83) who holds the school record,
It will be a quick turnaround for the Bulls as they host 10th-ranked Baylor on Friday night at UB Stadium.